The Boys season 4 review: Brutal, obscene and just as diabolical as ever

The show returns to Prime Video on Thursday, 13 June

The Boys (Prime Video)
The Boys returns for its hotly-anticipated fourth season on Thursday, 13 June. (Prime Video)

The Boys are back and the stakes are even higher in the Prime Video series because Homelander's grip on society is starting to feel more like a stranglehold.

Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) is closer than ever to becoming President, giving Supes —and Homelander (Anthony Starr)— the opening they need to control society completely. That means that Butcher (Karl Urban), Hughie (Jack Quaid), Annie (Erin Moriarty) and the Boys have their work cut out for them because they've got to fight a war on multiple fronts, but the discovery of a Supe-killing virus may just be what they need.

Season 4 is everything you'd hope for from The Boys, and then some. It's brutal, obscene and just as out there as it's always has been, pushing the boundaries of the superhero genre in new and interesting ways.

The Boys (Prime Video)
The new episodes sees Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and the Boys race to find a way to stop the Supes before they can take over the White House. (Prime Video)

The Prime Video series is led brilliantly by its ensemble cast, but the new episodes give Starr and Urban in particular the chance to take their characters to new heights.

For Starr it's about conveying the slow decline of Homelander. The Supe is increasingly unstable and every look and subtle move from the actor heightens the character's intimidating presence onscreen.

It all makes Homelander a fascinating character, in one moment his vulnerability is on full display and in the next he's utterly terrifying. Starr can convey this even when he's acting to himself, and its hard not to be impressed by his performance no matter how unsettling it is.

Urban too delivers an intriguing performance as his character faces his own mortality in the new season. Butcher is as hard to love as ever with his proclivity for achieving his aims with little thought for others, but it is in the quiet moments when Butcher interacts with his old friend Kessler (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that viewers will come to empathise with him and his plight.

The Boys (Prime Video)
Season 4 features some stellar performances from its cast, and introduces interesting new characters like Sister Sage and Firecracker. (Prime Video)

There are other new and exciting characters too, namely Susan Heyward's Sister Sage who is brought into the Seven by Homelander. As the smartest person in the world Sage is exactly what the Supes need, and Heyward holds her own in the role opposite show mainstays like Starr and Chace Crawford. Sage brings an interesting new dynamic to the group because she's the only one truly able to challenge Homelander.

Every gross moment and blood-splattered scene has become somewhat expected of the show, but the shock value still hasn't let up. The writers seem determined to constantly outdo themselves when it comes the story, and they continue to test what viewers are able to stomach in season four.

The new episodes are somehow even more violent and sexually explicit than ever before, which seemed impossible but the writers somehow found a way.

Watch the trailer for The Boys season 4:

What the writers are able to do so well though is hold a mirror up to society and tackle societal issues within the narrative with a sarcastic wit. New characters like Firecracker (Valorie Curry) are a perfect example of this, with the alt-right Supe spouting hateful rhetoric to challenge "woke" culture in a way that is clearly meant to highlight the ridiculousness of those arguments in real life.

Whether it's taken that way by viewers is another thing, but The Boys has always been anything but subtle with its satire.

What other critics thought of The Boys season 4:

Evening Standard: Superhero satire is as gory, gross and hilarious as ever (3-min read)

The Telegraph: Outrageous superhero satire shows signs of outgrowing its Spandex (3-min read)

The Wrap: Amazon’s Demented Superhero Series Still Fires on Most Cylinders (5-min read)

If you're already fully invested in The Boys, chances are season 4 will be your jam. But those who were tepid on the series may not be so moved by it though, simply because it is more of the same. Which is no bad thing because the formula for The Boys works, and works well, so why try to do anything different?

The series continues to maintain momentum and is just as shocking and thrilling as past seasons. The train has long left the station and the good news is that clearly seems to be going full steam ahead towards an explosive fifth season, which is believed to be where the series will come to an end.

Much like the Supes in the show, it seems a foregone conclusion that The Boys will stick the landing.

  • 📺 Where to watch The Boys season 4: Prime Video from 2 May

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: Gen V, Invincible, Deadpool

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Anthony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Jessie T. Usher, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capone, Laz Alonso, Karen Fukuhara, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Susan Heyward.

  • How long is it? 8 x 50-60 minute episodes

  • 📖 What’s it about? As Homelander and Neuman come closer to controlling the White House, society is one step away from disaster. Butcher and The Boys race to find a way to stop the maniacal Supe as he grows more powerful and draws in, but if anyone will find a way it's them.